Literary Interactions between China and Canada: Literary Activities in the Chinese Community from the Late Qing Dynasty to the Present*

In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
Laifong Leung University of Alberta, Email:

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Despite more than a century of discrimination and obstacles, the Chinese in Canada persevered and continued to engage in various kinds of cultural activities. They never gave up reaching out from the confined space of Chinatown. Taking a practical rather than theoretical approach, this essay draws on newspapers and other records to reconstruct the cultural life of Chinese in Canada and to present a different picture of the once misunderstood, if not marginalized community. The juxtaposition of cultural-interaction in general and literary-interaction in particular progressed in two periods: from the gold rush of the 1850s to 1967 (the year Canada implemented the new immigration policy based on points not on race) and the period since 1968. The early period witnessed an intensive involvement of cultural activities—such as newspaper reading, book clubs, regular poetry contests, Cantonese opera, and modern plays; the later period, a more open and diversified type of interaction that went beyond and across the boundaries of the Chinese communities—such as the Chinese Canadian Writers’ Association, founded in 1987.

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